David, unlike any Bible character before him, had the charisma to inspire a great nation. Yet in other ways he was a most ordinary man-often gripped by destructive passion, rocked by personal tragedy, and motivated by political gain. Yet, he is the one character the Bible describes as a "man after God's own heart." In this first volume of the "Great Lives" series Charles Swindoll shows how David proved his love for God many times over in an extraordinary life that left an enduring legacy of faith.
About a week ago I began Charles Swindoll's book David, a Man of Passion and Destiny. The one point that Charles emphasizes about David's life more than any other aspect is what Samuel himself said to Saul regarding David: "But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.". 1 Samuel 13:14
Charles goes over this point over and over, "he is a man after God's own heart.". What does that mean? Simply put he is a man who is sensitive to the Lord's needs. His heart is in synch with the Lord's. He keeps God precepts, his commandments. Whenever he fails to keep them he learns in what area he has failed to keep them. Charles doesn't say he's perfect. And from what we've read in the Bible, we know that David isn't perfect. He has marital problems; he disposes of an innocent life. David's own family is full of intrigue.
What is interesting about Charles' rendition of David's life is that he invokes it life and relevance to this day and age. Is this proper? I myself am conflicted about his approach. On the one hand, he fills in the blanks and makes the story of David more coherent. One place where he does this is with the contrast between David and Saul. Saul is "the people's" choice. Saul is a man concerned with the heart of Israel, and this is where he fails. David, by contrast is after God's heart, and therefore became Israel's greatest ruler:
"'And after He [God] had removed him [Saul], He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will."'" Acts 13:22
By contrast, Saul is concerned how he will look in front of Israel,
"'Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice."'" 1 Samuel 15:24
"'Then he [Saul] said, "I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the Lord your God."', 1 Samuel 15:26-30
Charles also uses the analogy of vision. Vertical vision is focused on the Lord, and opposite to that is the horizontal vision which focuses on the human realm. You can accurately guess which vision belongs to whom.
But where does this approach fail? I think where he makes it too relevant. By making the story relevant he also makes it more profane. David is a man after God's own heart. He is larger than life and accomplishes more than most of God's children will ever accomplish. And yet, according to Charles, he is no different from you and me. Is he right in this? I don't believe that statement, not entirely. After all, all of us Christians are under the light of the Holy Spirit and Jesus' grace. David did not rely on this gift, but rather God's favor. And in the Old Testament we also learn God's favor is temporary, it can come and go as He Himself chooses. With David, However, God's grace is with him forever, God never departs from him. At least that's what Charles say,
"Before the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost (Acts 2), the spirit of God never permanently rested on any believer except David and John the Baptizer. Those are the only two." p.44
That is a pretty bold statement, and yet there it is. I do not know enough of theology to say one way or another, whether this is accurate or not. But I'm in agreement that David is a favorite of God. And it is our task as Christians to aspire to his level rather than trying to bring David down to ours. To say that David is just like you and me is inaccurate, but to say "how can I learn from king David? How can I be after God's own heart?" is the right message, I believe
With these disagreement notwithstanding, Charles' rendition of Isreal's most powerful king is engaging and stimulating. His writing is profound yet the style is simple. The book invites multiple readings.
Perhaps the most popular Od Testament charactger, David is a study in contrasts: an unknown shepard lad who became the king, a rugged warrior who wrote tender psalms, a strong leader who was weak at home, a man of God with a rebellious son. This series introduces you to the facts revealed in Scripture and how they relate directly to us today. No biography could be more timely. Although David is dead, his life still speaks.